Written by Andres Jauregui for The Huffington Post
The Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Fla., has hanged an effigy of President Barack Obama from a gallows on its front lawn, a move DWOC pastor Terry Jones said was in response to Obama’s recent endorsement of same-sex marriage, as well as his stance on abortion and what Jones called his “appeasing of radical Islam.”
According to the Broward-Palm Beach New Times, the U.S. Secret Service is currently investigating Jones in response to the display.
“The Secret Service is aware of this incident and will conduct appropriate follow-up,” Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary told the paper’s “The Pulp” blog.
The effigy is suspended from a makeshift gallows with a noose of yellow rope, has a doll in its right hand and a rainbow-colored gay pride flag in its left.
In a telephone interview with The Huffington Post, Jones said the flag was meant to call attention to Obama’s stance on same-sex marriage and that the baby doll is there because the president is “favorable toward abortion.”
Jones also said that radical Islam is “the most dangerous threat to life and national security in America.”
There is also an Uncle Sam dummy standing at the base of the gallows outside the DWOC. Jones told HuffPost that the Obama effigy had originally been positioned to be hanging Uncle Sam when the display went up two weeks ago, but that the church changed the display on Wednesday.
The words “Obama is Killing America” are printed on a trailer nearby.
The DWOC came under intense scrutiny in 2011 after Jones burned a copy of the Quran, a move which sparked three days of violent rioting in Afghanistan that resulted in the deaths of at least 21 people, including seven U.N. workers.
In addition to its higher profile controversial moves, the Dove World Outreach Center has also been criticized for its internal rules, which The Smoking Gun has called “cult-like.”
In the church’s Academy Rulebook, written by Jone’s wife and published in 2007, prospective ministers are directed to cut off most contact with family members.
This is not the first time that an effigy of the country’s first black president has been hanged.
In March 2010, a teacher at a failing Rhode Island school hanged an effigy of Obama in his classroom. That same month, another dummy was found hanging on Main Street in the Georgia hometown of President Jimmy Carter.
In 2009, a Kentucky grand jury refused to indict two men who hanged an Obama effigy on the campus of the University of Kentucky. The men had been charged with burglary and disorderly conduct, the latter count associated with hanging the effigy. The lawyer for the two men said that the disorderly conduct charge violated his clients’ rights under the First Amendment.